It’s no secret that reaching the top of Google can get you more customers. Whether you have someone looking after your marketing or you’re doing everything yourself, there are always things you can do to help improve your rankings in the search engines.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways that you can help your business get on page one of the SERPs.
Forget what you know because SEO is changing
In order to succeed in 2017, you need to update your strategies. SEO has come on leaps and bounds over the past couple of years, and one of the main reasons for this is the rise in popularity of mobile devices — and the fact that they now drive more traffic and searches than desktop computers.
Google is also trying to make the web more secure by pushing heavily for all websites to adopt the HTTPS standard.
So what should you be focusing on in 2017?
- Mobile – With Google moving from a desktop-first to a mobile-first index, the intent is clear: if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it will become increasingly difficult to rank. This means that a mobile-first design that’s focused on user experience should be your priority.
- Local – While it was once all the rage to be found by everyone everywhere, the way people search has changed. Users are now on the lookout for local businesses who can provide what they’re looking for.
- Voice – With the popularity of virtual assistants on smartphones and the recent rise of home voice hubs (such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home), people are now searching without typing. To take advantage of voice, make sure you’re using conversational content on your site, and utilise structured markup such as Schema.org.
- HTTPS – Having a secure website doesn’t just ensure your customers’ data is secure — it also has ranking benefits. Starting this year, Google’s Chrome browser will mark any HTTP sites that collect data such as passwords or payment details as insecure.
Conduct an SEO audit
The next thing you should do is carry out an SEO audit on your website. This will not only help you to see where your website is ranking currently, but it will also show you any areas that are in need of improvement.
Some of the key points that you should be covering in an SEO audit are:
If your website isn’t being picked up by the search engines, or they’re having difficulty accessing your web pages, then this is an indication that something is wrong. Thankfully, tools such as Google’s Search Console can help you identify any problems and how to fix them.
The usability of your website will help determine how well your website ranks. Sites that are easy to navigate and have engaging content will rank better than those that don’t.
Take the time to read through your content. Is it engaging? Is it relevant? Is it grammatically correct? Your content is your sales pitch, so it needs to grab the attention of visitors in order to convert them into customers.
Backlinks remain in the top two factors that Google uses as part of its ranking algorithm, so make sure that your website has enough. Look for a good mix of links coming from different domains, using different keywords as the anchor text (check out this study from Ahrefs for more information on why and how to use anchor text).
These are just some of the things that you’ll want to measure in an SEO audit on your website.
Evaluate your local SEO
Get more customers by maximising your local SEO efforts this year. A lot of businesses discount the value of local SEO, thinking that these customers will find your business anyway. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Unless you’re appearing when customers are searching locally, then you’re at risk of losing out to competitors.
Some of the most important factors that determine which results show up in local listings are:
- Web page signals – Name, address, phone number (NAP), keywords in titles, topically relevant content and domain authority are just some of the signals taken from your website.
- Links – The value of links is key. Localised links from chambers of commerce and council websites are just a couple of examples of local, high-quality links.
- Business listing – Getting your information correct and your listing as complete as possible on Google My Business will help get your company appear in local results. Don’t forget Bing Places, as more and more voice searches are now powered by Bing.
- Reviews – As well as giving a good first impression of your business, gaining regular good reviews will help you rank well locally.
- Social – Active social media accounts with regular engagement will show customers you care and that your business is actively trading.
- Behaviour – The more people that interact with your local listing the better. Social media check-ins and click-through rates can all affect your local rankings.
If you build links, customers will come
You’ve probably read horror stories about link building, and companies that have disappeared off the face of Google overnight. But, if you follow our advice then there really isn’t anything to fear. In fact, you could soon be creating top quality links for your website. If done correctly, links can be a source of new, highly targeted visitors to your website.
What are the link strategies that work, and how can you start using them to your advantage?
Building relationships is a crucial tactic when creating a successful link building campaign — whether it’s posting insightful comments on industry blogs or reaching out to business partners. It’s well worth the time and effort to forge relationships with influencers and high-profile bloggers in your field, as this association will help you to build up your profile.
Council websites, chambers of commerce and local business directories are all low-hanging fruit when it comes to building links. Not only will they help increase your overall link count, but they are also generally high-quality, relevant links.
Content marketing can be a great way to get your material in front of people. And while everyone loves a good infographic, content marketing is more than just creating pretty images. To be successful, it needs to reach the right audience — and that’s where the work you’ve done to build relationships with bloggers and influencers can come into its own.
The humble blog is one of the most effective tools for building up a reputation as an authority in your industry. Not only can it be used to give advice and information, but having an active blog can also help drive traffic to your website. Whether you’re writing about your own products and services, offering comparisons or even venturing off topic, a blog is a useful addition to your website.
Make sure your website is optimised for success
There is a range of things you can do to ensure your website is optimised for SEO success. With the growing number of mobile users, the biggest change you can make to your website is to make it mobile-friendly.
Go beyond SEO and get ahead of your competitors by carrying out an audit on your website that covers:
- Usability – How easy is it to navigate your site? Can visitors find what they’re looking for? Do your calls to action stand out? Taking a look at the usability of your website can help identify any improvements to be made.
- Site speed – Having a fast website can give you ranking benefits, as it’s linked with better usability. A fast website means visitors are more likely to spend longer on your site, so you have more chance of converting them into customers.
- Navigation and architecture – Clearly defined structure with great navigation is beneficial for users and search engines alike. Try to ensure that all pages on your website can be reached within 3 clicks. This will ensure users don’t spend forever trying to find what they’re looking for.
- Mobile First – Yep, Google’s index will soon be mobile-first, which means that if your website isn’t mobile-friendly you’ll definitely be losing out.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. We’d love to hear about the strategies you’ll be using to get to the top of Google in 2017, so please do leave a comment below.